SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) — Leading up to election day, all indications were that medical cannabis would bring people to the polls. We now know thousands of voters skipped over other important races.
Utah voters came out in record numbers for the 2019 Midterm Elections — more than a million of them.
“There were many reasons, I think, for people to turn out for this election,” said Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute.
The numbers show they were overwhelmingly concerned about medical marijuana. Boyack says that's because the issue is deeply personal.
“It was really unsure how it was going into the election how it was going to turn out so I think that motivated a lot more people to come cast their vote," Boyack said.
1,065,630 people voted for the Proposition 2 medical marijuana initiative — more than any other statewide race. Prop 2 got 2,800 more votes than both U.S. Senate candidates combined, and 113,000 more votes than all 13 candidates in the state's four congressional districts combined.
“Issues are really driving the voters, rather than the candidates themselves," said Oscar Mata, chief political strategist with the Weber County Democrats.
Mata says that could be problematic moving forward for politicians.
“It kind of shows that people might be giving up on the candidates and who to believe and who not to believe," Mata said.
Mata says that idea could have cost one Democrat in Weber County, who lost a state house seat by just a couple hundred votes — votes Mata says were left on the table by people who voted for the Prop 2 initiative and not in the house race.
“I think that tells the parties and the candidates that they have a responsibility to try to educate the voters on how their role in office can impact these propositions,” Mata said.
Lawmakers will start the special session to legislate Prop 2 on Dec. 3. There is a committee meeting on Monday.